RTÉ Trade Union Group demands reversal of decision to close Young Peoples Department

The chair says the decision came as "a bolt out of the blue"

RTÉ Trade Union Group demands reversal of decision to close Young Peoples Department

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The RTÉ Trade Union Group (TUG) has called on the public broadcaster to withdraw its unilateral decision to close the Young Peoples Department.

The TUG rejected the proposition that this is a "legitimate or necessary strategy" and described it as "an attack on the fundamental principle of Public Service Broadcasting".

TUG Chair, Shirley Bradshaw, said: “RTÉ announced this decision last night. It came as a bolt out of the blue and was made without any consultation with trade unions. There is no justification for the manner in which this decision was taken and this cavalier attitude to unions and staff only compounds the bad decision.”

The TUG has requested an urgent meeting with the senior management of RTÉ. This meeting has now been scheduled to take place tomorrow morning.

The Workers' Party has also called on the public service broadcaster to row back on its decision.

"I understand that it is a streamlining procedure of outsourcing departments that aren't cost-effective, but if this is the start of it, where will the outsourcing end?" Head of the Party Jimmy Dignam told Newstalk.

Speaking about the effect it will have on children in Ireland, he said that the state broadcaster used to have an ethos of child development and education, and by out-sourcing the programming, it won't be the same quality.

"I've spoken to some workers in RTÉ and the decision has come as a complete surprise to them."

In a statement, RTÉ said the decision follows an examination of all output - and is to "achieve stronger efficiencies and value for money".

The move means all young people's programmes on RTÉjr and on RTÉ 2 will be commissioned from the independent sector.

The broadcaster says it is not reducing its commitment to young people's programmes, or reducing spend.

It says its output for young people has traditionally been made up of a range of in-house programmes, independently produced programmes and animations.

It is believed that all staff will be reassigned to different departments within the broadcaster.